Saturday, 18 January 2020 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture we are all reminded of the missions which God has entrusted to us as the people of God, whom He has called to be His servants and followers. We heard first of all the story of the calling and anointing of Saul as the first king of Israel by the prophet Samuel, and then the story from the Gospel on how the Lord Jesus called Levi the tax collector to be one of His disciples.

Therefore today we heard the story of the calling of two men by God to be the instruments of His works among His people. Saul was called from the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest and least important of the tribes of Israel at that time; and he was also from the least important and smallest of the groups and families within the tribe of Benjamin. And God called him to be the first king over His people Israel when the people cried out to have a king over them.

Saul was just a simple man without prestigious or powerful background, and God chose him to be the king over His people, much as how later on He would also choose a simple shepherd boy, David, the youngest and smallest of the many sons of Jesse to be the successor of Saul. God indeed chose His servants and called them, and not the other way round, that is we choose ourselves. He made those whom He had chosen to be worthy and empowered them as how He led Saul and David to many victories over their enemies.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard of the calling of the tax collector Levi, whom the Lord Jesus called to be His disciple. Levi left behind his job and everything he had, following the Lord and eventually would be known by a new name, that is Matthew. As one of the Twelve Apostles, he would be known as St. Matthew, the Apostle and Evangelist as not only that he was one of the Twelve but with St. John the Apostle he also had the distinction of being also the writer of one of the four Holy Gospels.

When Levi invited the Lord to have a meal with him and the other tax collectors at his place, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law immediately judged Him and those tax collectors, condemning His actions and questioning why a supposedly holy and popular Man of God would mingle with the tax collectors who were considered among the least welcomed and also hated by a large portion of the population.

The tax collectors were despised because they were seen as collaborators who ‘sold’ their own countrymen and people to the Romans as they helped to collect the hated taxes and money for the Roman governors and magistrates. But in truth, those tax collectors were just the same as anyone else, when looked upon without the bias that many were looking at them with. In fact as we can see, while the tax collectors welcomed the Lord and were willing to listen to Him, it was the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who refused to believe in the Lord and rejected Him.

Again, as I said earlier on, God chose and called those whom He wished to be His followers. And unlike many of the Pharisees and teachers of the Law who wanted to show off their piety and righteousness before the people, and wanted to justify themselves as being better than others especially the tax collectors, they actually failed to see that God honours the humble and those who love Him more than they love themselves.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, how is this significant for us? It is so because we are all also called by God to be His disciples. God has called us to follow Him through our baptism, and if we are truly willing to follow Him, then we should open our hearts and minds to welcome Him into our midst. Are we able to do this? Are we able to trust in God to lead us down the right path going forward? God will lead us down the right path if only we allow Him to guide us.

Let us all seek the Lord and allow Him to guide us in our journey of life and faith. Let us dedicate ourselves anew to Him, and let us grow in our trust and faith with each and every days of our lives from now on. May God bless us all and may He be with us always, through all the goods and trials of this life we have in this world, that we may be His faithful disciples and witnesses to the nations. Amen.

Saturday, 18 January 2020 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Mark 2 : 13-17

At that time, when Jesus went out again, beside the lake, a crowd came to Him, and He taught them. As He walked along, He saw a tax collector sitting in his office. This was Levi, the son of Alpheus. Jesus said to him, “Follow Me!” And Levi got up and followed Him.

And it so happened that, when Jesus was eating in Levi’s house, tax collectors and sinners sat with Him and His disciples; there were a lot of them, and they used to follow Jesus. But Pharisees, men educated in the Law, when they saw Jesus eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to His disciples, “Why does your Master eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

Jesus heard them, and answered, “Healthy people do not need a doctor, but sick people do. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Saturday, 18 January 2020 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Psalm 20 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7

The king rejoices in Your strength, o YHVH, and exults in Your saving help. You have granted him his desire; You have not rejected his request.

You have come to him with rich blessings; You have placed a golden crown upon his head. When he asked, You gave him life – length of days forever and ever.

He glories in the victory You gave him; You shall bestow on him splendour and majesty. You have given him eternal blessings, and gladdened him with the joy of Your presence.

Saturday, 18 January 2020 : 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

1 Samuel 9 : 1-4, 17-19 and 1 Samuel 10 : 1a

There was a man from the tribe of Benjamin whose name was Kish. He was the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, a valiant Benjaminite. Kish had a son named Saul, a handsome young man who had no equal among the Israelites, for he was a head taller than any of them.

It happened that the asses of Kish were lost. So he said to his son Saul, “Take one of the boys with you and go look for the asses.” They went all over the hill country of Ephraim and the land of Shalishah but did not find them. They passed through the land of Shaalim and the land of Benjamin, but the asses were nowhere to be found.

So, when Samuel saw Saul, YHVH told him, “Here is the man I spoke to you about! He shall rule over My people.” Saul approached Samuel in the gateway and said, “Tell me, where is the house of the seer?” Samuel answered Saul, “I am the seer. Go up ahead of me to the high place, for today you shall eat with me. In the morning, before you leave, I will tell you all that is in your heart.”

Then Samuel took a vial of oil and poured it on Saul’s head.